I was going to write about something completely different, but a friend on facebook linked to an article/interview by famous Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans, about why millennials are leaving the church. She makes a good point that young people don’t care about “hip” worship, what we want is substance. What we want is Jesus (Yeshua.)
Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. –precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.
I don’t %100 disagree with anything Rachel has to say. I certainly agree that “We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.”
But why should we stop at Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy? Why not go deeper? Why not go into ancient Hebrew practice? If anything has true authenticity and substance, wouldn’t it be to worship as the Hebrews did?
When I start to bring up Hebrew roots to my friends, they get distracted by all the sacrifices and all the obligations in the Torah. We are taught to harshly judge and criticize the Hebrews.
Say it ain’t so!
Oh, but it is.
Our modern Christianity is the child of Catholicism, and there’s no argument around it. It is a fact. Catholicism was birthed in 2nd-4th century Rome, a time when Christian worship was being merged with Pagan Sun-god worship, and many anti-Jewish traditions were built in. (More in C.J. Koster’s Come Out of Her My People) Thus, Catholicism and all Christianity birthed from it have indoctrinated antisemitism.
Moses says to the Hebrews in Deuteronomy,
“For this command which I am commanding you today, it is not too hard for you, nor is it far off. “It is not in the heavens, to say, ‘Who shall ascend into the heavens for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it?’ “Nor is it beyond the sea, to say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it?’ “For the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – to do it. “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding you today to love יהוה(Yahweh) your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and יהוה(Yahweh) your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess.
If you really love Yahweh, you ought to follow His commands. And as Moses says, they are not too hard for you.
Is it really that hard not to make images of deity? Okay, so no more Jesus-fish or crosses or paintings of Jesus, but did you really gain anything by that anyway?
Is it really that hard not to use the name of Yahweh idly? We have more of a problem of not using His name, rather than using it wrongly.
Is it really that hard to honor Sabbath? Oh no, no work on the seventh day of the week. Your grades will fall apart and the economy will crash. Whatever shall we do.
I could go on and on with the laws. And yes, there are some laws that we simply cannot follow today, like tithing. But I don’t need to go through the entire list of the right-rulings in the Torah to justify them. They speak for themselves.
And it shouldn’t even matter how hard they are. Because, as it also says in Deuteronomy,
“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the witnesses, and the laws, and the right-rulings which יהוה(Yahweh) our Elohim has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Mitsrayim, and יהוה brought us out of Mitsrayim with a strong hand, and יהוה(Yahweh) sent signs and wonders, great and grievous, upon Mitsrayim, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes. ‘And He brought us out from there, to bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. ‘And יהוה(Yahweh) commanded us to do all these laws, to fear יהוה(Yahweh) our Elohim, for our good always, to keep us alive, as it is today. ‘And it is righteousness for us when we guard to do all this command before יהוה(Yahweh) our Elohim, as He has commanded us.’
Okay, so it will certainly look like a challenge to most people, to change your thinking toward the scriptures and how you practice scriptures. But it is for our good! Follow Yahweh’s commands and His blessings will follow.
So, back to how I started this topic. Yes, millennials want substance, they want Yeshua. But don’t just revert to Catholicism or Orthodoxy, go back farther. Go back to the Hebrews. I am sure, that if you closely examine the Hebrew scriptures from a Hebrew mindset, there are NO contradictions. There is NO hypocrisy (ideally). In other words, there are no followers of Yeshua who celebrate the birthday of the Babylonian Sun-deity (“Christmas”) or the Babylonian fertility festival (Easter), thus breaking Yahweh’s commands about not following any Pagan worship at all whatsoever in any degree. (Come Out of Her My People explores deeply the Pagan worship that Christianity is steeped in.)
There is so much substance in Hebrew worship that I’ve been studying for six months and I don’t even have the basics down yet. There is so much beauty and depth in the ritual offerings system. Or the parallels between the Hebrew festivals and Yeshua. I love Moses’s conversations with Yahweh. Keeping Sabbath is awesome, and it goes back to creation. Kosher? Yes Yes Yes. I love eating Kosher.
Christianity focuses on us, on our actions, on our personal salvation (at least mainstream Christianity does). The Hebrew scriptures tells the story of Yahweh, and our reaction to Him. HE is the main character of the story. If you want to seriously follow Yahweh, it is not about, “which branch of Christianity suits me?” No. It’s about, “How has He commanded me to follow Him? How does He say I can have communion with him?”